Countdown to apocalypse… we know when Milky Way will hit Andromeda

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Countdown to apocalypse… we know when Milky Way will hit Andromeda



Scientists have worked out how long we’ve got until the Milky Way smashes into a neighbouring galaxy – and you don’t need to be too worried just yet.
At some point in the future, our galaxy will plough into Andromeda and form a massive new star system.
It’s now believed this will happen in 4.5 billion years time, rather than 3.9 billion years into the future.
Astronomers used data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite to study the movements of Andromeda.

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They said the collision will happen later than expected and will also be ‘less destructive’, with the two galaxies hitting each other in a ‘glancing blow’ rather than a head-on collision.
‘This finding is crucial to our understanding of how galaxies evolve and interact,” says Timo Prusti, ESA Gaia Project Scientist.
So what will happen when Andromeda hits the Milky Way?
With both galaxies made up of more than 100 billion stars, you might think that the collision will be explosive.
But it’s believed that gap between stars is so huge that the actual number of collisions is likely to be small.
However, the stellar dance caused by this cosmic carve-up will still be very dramatic.
More: Tech

The gravitational chaos caused when the two galaxies begin to interact with each other will throw stars out of their orbit and into a huge swirl.
It’s likely the two galaxies would then settle down to form a new galaxy.
Our own solar system would probably survive this process, although it seems unlikely that humanity will be around to see it.

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